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Tshaneni Primary School gets a new library!
15-year-old New Yorker, Colin Bloom, whose father was born in South Africa, is passionate about our country, and afrequent visitor. On a visit in 2018, he went to a local supermarket, and noticed that all of the tinned food had picturesof the product, rather than just the name of the contents. He asked his father why and was shocked to discover thatmany South Africans are still illiterate and that even the children in schools struggle to read.
In 2020, Colin returned to South Africa with his family and while on holiday at Ghost Mountain Inn, they participated in a cultural tour which took in a visit to Tshaneni Primary School.
Ghost Mountain has a strong connection with the school and has been supporting various projects there over the years through their charitable trust, the Ndumu Charitable Foundation. Tshaneni Primary School has 210 children between the ages of 6 and 13. Built in the late 19th century by missionaries, the school is very under-resourced, with pit latrines and no running water, and did not have a library or many reading books.
Determined to do something about the situation, Colin returned to the USA and amazingly collecting over 3,000 books to bring to South Africa – weighing a staggering 240kg!
But there was one important ingredient missing. There was no library to house the books in. With funding provided by Colin and his brother, James, Stefan Zbinden, Chris Green, Ndumu Charitable Foundation (Ghost Mountain Inn) and Libraries for Literacy, Breadline Africa was able to place a 6-metre container library with a covered veranda, shelving, toys and posters – and of course, books … loads and loads of books!
In his speech, Principal Bhekinkosi Myeni said: “A library has always been in my heart and I believe that readers areleaders. It has been a long journey of developing partnerships and I am truly grateful to Ghost Mountain Inn for theirongoing support – and to the other generous donors who made today possible. Reading opens minds and our schoolhas reading programmes and for that I want to thank Jozini Library for their support.”
The librarian from Jozini Library thanked Colin and the donors and explained that it is through amazing acts like thisthat the children have the opportunity to become future leaders, engineers, scientist and doctors.
Jean Toucher, the Safari & Activities Manager at Ghost Mountain Inn, gave a moving speech where she recalled the words of her grandmother, who explained that every drop of water makes a difference as each drop forms a river that eventually flows into the ocean, which is made up of millions of drops of water. Each person who has helped make this library areality is like a drop of water and made a real difference in the lives of the children of Tshaneni Primary School. She commended Colin for his vision and remarkable fundraising efforts.
Marion Wagner, Director of Breadline Africa, congratulated Colin for being such an inspiration and encouraged the principal and staff to allow the children regular access to the library and not to worry about keeping the books in perfect condition. “It would be fantastic to see muddy hand prints in the books and turned down pages, as then we know that the books are being read,” she added.
She thanked all the donors; Ndumu Charitable Foundation – part of the Ghost Mountain Inn, their team Jean, Anne, Ingrid, Gert, and Craig Rutherfoord, owner of Ghost Mountain Inn. And especially Colin for his vision and his family: James, Jennifer and Ryan Bloom who supported and carried over 240kg of books – the most that Breadline Africa have ever put into a 6-metre library! She also thanked the children for their incredible performances – the readings, songs, recitals and dancing – so much talent was evident.
As part of the opening event, Colin read “The Hungry Caterpillar” in isiZulu – which amazed and impressed everyone, while leaving the children riveted! His brother, James read “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”, to equal appreciation.
Well done, Colin – Africa is definitely in you … and we are all lucky that it is!
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